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The Three Knocks
The Day has come:
Prophets and seers foretold it, — greatest day
All secrets of this life to be exposed,
All prisoners and slaves to be released,
All darkness banished and all discord healed, —
Old time is ripe for this, and earth and Heaven
Wait with expectant ear and eye the call.
A sigh, as from a sleeping host, begins to stir the air
A voice from an awakening band whose numbers none compare
The earth is to its center stirred, and on their crumbling base,
Old monuments are toppling down, in ruin and disgrace.
Upon the lower sky a gleam is reddening up the East,
As if the sun, ere early morn, would to his journey haste
Strange faces, wondrous sweet, like those for which our torn hearts yearn,
Peer out, benignantly, from clouds that in the radiance burn.
In Mason Lodges, here and there, where taper light still burns,
Lo, every Brother from the open page of Scripture turns!
He turns, he looks beyond the East, beyond the Master's chair,
And wonders at the kindling blaze that stains the Orient there.
The Master drops his gavel now, — the Omnipotent is heard
The Tyler leaves his trust uncalled, resigns his useless sword
The Scribe shuts up his volume, for the penman's work is done
And all may see Eternity's great promised morn's begun.
Now 'neath the heaving hillocks life descends
Now bone to bone conjoins, the sinews knit
The coursing blood its vermeil brightness lends
The heart in rapture hastes again to beat
Death and the worm are vanquished, and the grave,
Stripped of its horrors, seemeth but a bed
Where tired ones come and sweet reposings have,
And rise and go when eastern skies are red.
The Master joins his Craftsmen, and they link
Their trusty hands in friendship's farewell chain
As deeming, while they stand upon the brink
Of Fate, that Brethren faithful should remain
Nearer and nearer yet they gather in,
And one, a gray-haired veteran, holds up
A green sprig gathered from an aged pine,
Worn as memorial of Masons' hope.
What comfort now, that emblem of their faith!
They pass it round, they press it to the lip
Its sacred hue has often mocked at death,
And lent new meaning to the Masons' grip.
Nearer and nearer yet, till foot to foot,
And breast to breast, the moral builders stand,
While roar the unfettered elements without,
And shudderings disturb the solid land.
Now on the left there starts from out the wall
A shadowy hand. With occult character,
In light ineffable it fills the hall,
Flashing till human vision scarce can bear.
It writes, — and well the joyful group can read:
You did it to the poor and the distressed
Heaven's records show the generous word and deed, —
Enter, ye faithful, to the promised Rest!
The drama ends, — the dead cast off their shrouds,
And, all erect, in solemn awe await
The Message earth in every ear attends,
And Heaven is hushed while the Grand Master speaks.
'Tis not for man to look within the skies
Let pen prophetic all these words record:
I saw the dead, both small and great, arise,
And stand before the judgment seat of God
I saw the grave deliver up its dead
I saw, amazed, the once remorseless sea,
The very dust the winged winds had spread,
Collect and render up, all tenderly —
I heard one say, within the golden gate,
The happy, happy dead, forever blest,
Who died in Jesus, — for their works do wait,
And follow them to their eternal rest
I heard one say, Depart, ye accursed, far
From Love Divine, and Light, and Heaven, depart
The sick, the poor, the friendless prisoner,
Plead in my name, but vainly, to your heart —
I heard a multitude in sweetest frame,
Singing and harping to the All-Gracious God,
Who is, and was, and will be, aye, the same,
And never fails to man his plighted word!
And reading this from the inspired hand,
May we not humbly hope, we Masons free,
That when before the Overseer we stand,
He will recall our deeds of charity?
Is it not written, from the widow's eye
We've wiped sad tears, — the fatherless have smiled, —
The homeless through our doors passed joyously, —
The hungry soul has been refreshed and filled?
We feel death's influence nearing, day by day
In mother earth our hands must soon be stilled
The evening shades to us seem cold and gray
The night dews fall, our aching limbs are chilled.
Then let us hope, and hoping, labor yet,
Till the dread Signal fall, and we shall rise
Ample our wages, and divinely set,
In rest and peace and bliss beyond the skies!
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